The return of last paper
If you love something set it free, if it comes back it was meant to be. What a bunch of garbage. Well maybe just in this case. I’ve slowly gotten out from under the weight of not one, but four different first author journal papers I’ve been working on. Three of the four are published (with one going live any day now… I think?! That should’ve happened a week ago…), but one paper, last paper, has been a struggle all its own and now it’s back with a vengeance.
Out of the four papers I’ve juggled, last paper was an engineering feat all its own and it’s not quite finished yet. The dataset we collected was by far the most complicated thing I’ve ever worked with and will ever work with (most likely) since my dissertation dataset won’t even be that complex. I joke that it was a PhD worthy effort and I still feel like it should’ve been my dissertation project. Basically I hated this project with a fiery passion. But it was done, submitted, and I could forget about it for a time. Well happy Monday because the reviews are finally in.
Now I’m leading into this like all hell broke loose the responses from the reviewers, but truthfully aside from one reviewer, who had one comment where they asked for a whole new experiment, things went better than expected. The level of work that went into this paper is not apparent by the language we used unfortunately, but apparently one reviewer really wanted more from us.
Thankfully that won’t be happening thanks to two magic words, future work!
As in future work should do this other really complicated study that is outside the scope of what we are trying to do here, but may be useful in other contexts. Outside of that the reviewers were mostly kind and gave good feedback with mostly minor changes. So all-in-all not too bad of feedback. I will be needing to remake several of the visuals, since I got incredibly fancy and made videos depicting some of the things we found, but since the code is written that shouldn’t be too difficult to address (I hope!).
Frankly I’m thankful the level of feedback we got wasn’t more critical about the paper itself. I felt like there were a lot of open questions that we couldn’t answer from our study, but at the same time we made it clear that those were problems/limitations that could be addressed. One reviewer asked us to specify how we may address those in future experiments, which I feel like I had, but I guess we need to go into more detail.
As I’ve mentioned before (like here), the review process can be brutal. People can turn pseudo-violent because they are probably just as angry about the system as we are and it comes across in the feedback we get. After all, the reviewers are unpaid and do not benefit at all from reviewing papers outside of getting the chance to say they do reviews for journals. I don’t exactly blame people for acting borderline unprofessional in a very unprofessional situation, afterall everyone deserves to get paid for the work they do and it’s not like journals aren’t raking in tons of cash to begin with.
Thankfully this round proved to be a generally good experience from the reviewers and I am grateful for that. Of course that could change after our resubmission, but you generally get a sense for how people will react based on the first round. In any case, I now have a small pile of things to address before the resubmission, but they were generous with the amount of time I have to respond before it’s treated as a “new submission” instead of a second round of edits.
It feels like only yesterday I had these papers just piling up waiting for me to finish them and now I have just one more before they are all published. It’s somewhat surreal to be in this position when it felt like I would never get there. While there’s still some work to be done before it actually gets published, it feels a lot more manageable now that the other three are done and published (again with the exception of robot paper, which is odd since it should be published any day, but I’ve been told that for about a week now…).
On my first project at work, we had gotten things all finished, and then the customer decided they needed to change a requirement. It was a small change, but by that point in the process even tiny changes are a big deal because they create a cascade of rebuilding and retesting. And one of my teammates said, “Now I know why engineers cry at launches. They’re so glad the stupid thing is going to space and they never have to see it again!”
I also recall a professor commenting, “You know, I liked it when I was in school and eventually I could just hand a thing in and get a bad grade. Now they make me keep fixing it over and over.”
So, yeah, the angst is real. I’m glad it sounds like this paper’s review didn’t go too badly, though. After all the trouble it took just to get it ready for first submission, it deserves a speedy passage the rest of the way!
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April 25, 2022 at 9:09 pm
Haha! What a great story. I agree I would probably cry once this paper is published and not my concern again!
Yes, this was a much better experience than robot paper in particular. It may be field related too, maybe mechanical engineers are just tired in general! I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this will go smoothly though based on our initial response to the paper.
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April 26, 2022 at 11:36 am